The Main Event At Santa Pod Raceway In England

Photos by: ROGER GORRINGE

May 24th - 27th, 2019 - The opening rounds of the European Drag Racing Series started at the long Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend as the Sportsman and the FIA and FIM Europe Pro car and bike classes started their season under warm, bright then cool, breezy showery conditions. It extended the event into long hours most days, tiring both racers, crews and the seemingly many loyal spectators. 

FIA TOP FUEL qualifying was led by the defending champion, Finland’s Anita Mäkelä with a 3.870/311 just ahead of Britain’s Liam Jones on a 3.887/311 pass to head the eight car field, equally divided with four male and four female pilots. Mäkelä dominated all the long Bank Holiday weekend dealing out a fireballing Micke Kågered in the opening round then, a kabooming Jndia Erbacher in the semi. Norway’s Maja Udtian battled her way through some fiery rounds beating a tyre spinning and pedalling Stig Neergaard then, taking out the only guy left, Liam Jones who red lit. Anita Mäkelä in her Auto Haapanen/Levin Iglut/Jettaset fueller had a solo to take the money as Maja Udtian suffered staging problems and was timed out; a new European ET record was set in taking the win, a 3.842 at only 296.72mph.

FIA TOP METHANOL was sadly only a three car field of two Dragsters and one Funny Car and it was Belgium’s Sandro Bellio in the TMFC who had all the glory, a top qualifier of 5.529/259 then a bye into the final. Meeting Bellio’s Dyno Unlimited/Dannycars/Molinari Racing Clutches/Evchargeking Chevy Monte Carlo in the final was Malta’s Monty Bugeja in the blown dragster, he shook and runner-upped with a 5.451/268 as the 5.533/253 took the win light.

FIA PRO MOD saw a massive twenty-five entries including a first from Russia, who gamely rescued a wall to wall up-on-two-wheels qualifier only later to suffer a devastating top end fire in round one – he emerged with no injury. The field was led by Netherland’s David Vegter with a great 5.804/240 ahead of Sweden’s Jan Ericsson’s 5.844/243 leaving another eight in the fives, the remainder in the low sixes. Multi-time champion, Sweden’s Micke Gullqvist sat in sixth place in qualifying but then found his former form and bludgeoned his way to the final defeating Britain’s Nick Davies then fellow Swedes Andreas Arthursson and Jan Ericsson before meeting a returning Mats Eriksson in his ’56 Crown Victoria. Eriksson had seen off the likes of Dutch drivers Marck Harteveld and David Vegter before holeshotting defending champion, Jimmy Alund in the ’51 Chevy Business Coupe. The final was all Swedish with Micke Gullqvist’s Stavdal/Pampas Marina backed ’68 Camaro taking the win with a 5.835/245 as Eriksson left before the tree.

FIA PRO STOCK witnessed an all Swedish six entries, headed by Michael Malmgren with a 6.573/210. Jimmy Ålund made a return to full-time Pro Stock after concentrating on Pro Mod last year but still doing both classes again this season. Malmgren dismissed Simon Gustafsson in round one, had a bye in round two before facing Ålund in the final. Jimmy Ålund took out Stefan Ernryd in the first round then the defending champion, Bengt Ljungdahl in the second. It was the Summit Racing Equipment Camaro of Jimmy Ålund that took the event win with a slightly weaving 6.596/209 beating the holeshot by Malmgren’s Pontiac that got close to the wall and runner-upped with a 7.967/122.

FUNNY CAR was in its second round of the season in the European Funny Car Series and had its usual four British entries led by Steve Ashdown with a 4.475/256. It was a fairly easy route to the final for Ashdown with a bye in the first round, then to face the Festival Of Power winner, Kevin Chapman on the money run. Ashdown’s Undertaker Dodge Stratus left first then came off the power as Chapman’s Thermoreg International Mustang shook and got close to the wall. Winning numbers for Ashdown were 4.755/188 as Chapman recorded a slowed up 5.582/134.

TOP DOORSLAMMER was a first, an invitation race for the Scandinavian class that usually races over the eighth-mile and putting them all to the test of performing over the full quarter-mile. A week before, they ran The Doorslammers event with a £10,000 purse for the winner which was taken by Sweden’s Mattias Wulcan in his ’68 Camaro. In an eight car full quarter-mile contest Wulcan came up against fellow Swede, Caroline Strand in her Corvette in the final, Strand gained a good holeshot and coupled it with a 5.942/242 win as Wulcan got close to the wall gaining second with a 6.3677/144.

FIM Europe TOP FUEL BIKE saw a nine bike entry led by a returning Rickard Gustafsson from Sweden all repaired after an injurious crash at Hockenheim, Germany last year. A 5.836/234 led the field, the only machine in the fives. It was Gustafsson that was victorious as he dealt out Britain’s Stuart Crane in one then arch rival from Greece, Filippos Papafilippou in two before facing Malta’s Glenn Borg for the final. Borg managed to get his machine into round two after a solo in one then seeing off France’s Eric Richard. The RG Engineering backed 1550cc Puma machine of Rikard Gustafsson chased down Borg recording a 5.955/242 win as Borg came second with a 6.907/201.

FIM Europe SUPER TWIN BIKE also had a nine bike entry led by defending champion, Denmark’s Marcus Christiansen with a 6.386/215. Christiansen made his way to the final by way of defeating Belgium’s Marc van den Boer in round one, Dutch rider, Gert-Jan Laseur in two to reach to money run. Meeting Christiansen would be the rider Samu Kemppainen from Sweden making a welcome return to FIM Europe racing, he rode past most on one wheel taking out Dutch rider Martijn de Haas then Britain’s Neil Midgley. It all ending on the startline for Kemppainen as his bike lurched forward and stalled allowing Marcus Christiansen the 6.505/215 win.

FIM Europe PRO STOCK BIKE welcomed a return by Finland’s Fredrik Fredlund a past multi-champion who led qualifying with a 7.116/188 but it all ended there as he suffered engine damage and did not make any rounds. Britain’s Martin Bishop took advantage getting past fellow Brit, Len Paget then doing a stage and roll through in the semi to get to the final. It was Finland’s Janne Koskinen that took the big win beating Swiss rider Kevin Feuz in round one, defending champion, France’s Bertrand Maurice in two. The final was a solo as Bishop failed to show allowing Janne Koskinen on his Suzuki GSXR the 7.233/185 win mentored and assisted by Fredrik Fredlund.

FIM Europe SUPER STREET BIKE had a massive twenty-six entries and was led by Britain’s Steve Venables on a 6.876/201 top qualifier. It was the class’s second round after an event in Hungary a few weeks earlier. Steve Venables on his D.M.E. Racing.com 1340cc Hayabusa was the only six-second runner during eliminations and ran in front of Brit, Graham Balchin after a bye in round one, a 6.889/210 as Sweden’s Mathias Bohlin slowed, broken. A great event was achieved by Germany’s Erich Gruber as he managed some surprising wins over Denmark’s Mogens Lund, a broken Steve Mead and another Brit, Hungary winner, Alex Hope. Steve Venables got the leave on Gruber in the final, running a Euro ET record of 6.854 at 213 as Gruber gamely chased to runner-up with a 7.847/185.

FIM Europe JUNIOR DRAG BIKE - Winner Blade Dummer (GB) 13.894/48 over Meg Talbot 9.657/67.

Competition Eliminator - Winner Kev Perkins (GB) 7.737/151 over Kevin Jenkins (GB) 13.779/80.

Super Comp – Winner Martin Curbishley (GB) 8.911/147 over Peter Creswell (GB) 9.010/147.

Super Gas – Winner Simon Fulton (GB) 15.239/84 over a broken Mark White (GB).

Super Pro ET – Winner Stuart Doignie (GB) over Daniel Giles (GB).

Pro ET – Winner Nic Williams (GB) over James Oliver (GB).

Junior Dragster – Winner Matthew Dowdy (GB) over Tom Kaye (GB).

Street Eliminator – Winner Andy Bond (GB)  over Joe Stevens (GB).